All Lee schools will stock naloxone to combat potential opioid overdoses
School nurses, resource officers and other staff have been trained to use the nasal spray version, Narcan, which can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.
This week, Lee County’s school board approved a final order clearing the way for naloxone to be stocked in all school clinics districtwide.
“Unfortunately, opioid is in our backyard, and having the medication available to save lives is amazing,” said Wally Colon, the district's assistant director of health services.
She said school nurses, resource officers and other staff have been trained to use the nasal spray version, Narcan, which can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.
“Hopefully, we never have to use it. But if the emergency comes up, we are ready to be able to save a life,” said Colon.
No one is happier about the decision than former Lee County student Freya Turner.
“Narcan saved my sister's life twice, at least that we know of," said Turner.
Freya’s older sister, Madison, who also attended school in Lee County, battled opioid addiction as a teenager.
“My sister was one of the most epic people on the face of the planet,” said Freya. “You would have never known that she was on drugs from, like, high school. She was on the math team, on volleyball. She participated in so many different things. She did drama. She was … you would have loved her. But when she moved out and went to college, it got way worse.”
Madison died of an overdose at age 20.
WGCU reviewed state data and found 720 reported incidents of drug sales or drug use in Lee County schools during the 2021-22 school year. Just two were listed as opioid incidents.
The district says they haven’t had an opioid overdose, but Freya is content knowing district leaders are doing something to protect students
“Narcan is something that everybody needs to have. The fact that it's on the counter at Publix now should tell you something, you know,” said Turner.
Despite the opioid epidemic, an NPR analysis found this year, that 11 of 20 of the largest school districts in the country stocked naloxone in all of their schools.
Schools in Collier, Charlotte and several other Florida counties already keep Narcan on hand.
“There's probably an A-plus student on the track to be valedictorian that has a problem. You know, they can be the most functioning people or the least functioning people, you do not know what is going on behind their closed doors,” said Turner.
Copyright 2023 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.